Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: The Edge of Courage (Red Team #1) by Elaine Levine

Book coverThe Edge of Courage (Red Team #1) by Elaine Levine
Purchase link: Amazon

My rating: star star star star star

Heat rating: Flame  Flame  Flame

Step into Elaine Levine's exciting new series of alpha warriors--products of the government's secret corps of assassins called the Red Team:

Haunted by memories he cannot reach, stalked by an enemy bent on revenge . . .

Rocco Silas has come home to Wyoming after long years as a Red Team operative in Afghanistan. It isn't easy returning to civilian life, especially burdened as he is with a staggering case of PTSD or hunted as he is by an enemy determined to seek an eye-for-eye--neither of which can he battle until he confronts the truth of what happened one fateful day in the high mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush.

. . . She alone holds the key to his sanity.

Mandy Fielding's dream of opening a therapeutic riding center on her family's ranch is almost within her grasp--until she hires Rocco Silas, a dangerous ex-Spec Ops friend of her brother's. His haunted eyes and passionate touch promise a love she never dared believe possible. Can they confront the truth of his past and build a future together or will the enemy stalking him destroy them both?

I love it when a book surprises me because I've bought it knowing nothing other than the blurb (I don't read reviews before reading a book!) and the fact that this had Kindle Audible Whispersync, a must for me to listen to while driving.

This book is one of the most disturbing and traumatic reads I've had in a very long time. Not so disturbing that I can't go on, but enough that it has my breath hitching in my chest as I read about Rocco's story. Traumatic because of what Rocco is going through.

Without a doubt, this is Rocco's story. Rocco is a war veteran, recently returned from Afghanistan and suffering from a very severe case of PTSD. The story, while it reveals a building relationship between Mandy and Rocco as it progresses, really focuses on Rocco and his PTSD.

I have never read about anyone with PTSD in such graphic, traumatic and troubled detail before and let me say, it is gut wrenching. Experiencing every painful moment of Rocco's problem as Mandy helps him to heal breaks my heart. Ms Levine does not pull her punches when she draws you a very vivid picture of what a veteran dealing with PTSD could be like. She shows it to you in all it's ugly, haunting glory and dares you to look away, which you can't because her writing is compelling and she draws you into Rocco's psyche, making you ache for him and cheer for him at the same time. I adored Rocco. All his rough edges, his pain and his journey to healing, and when he heals, it's a beautiful thing. I fell for him even more when he says this to Mandy:

"You are sunshine and moonlight, laughter and joy, a life lived entirely without fear. You heard the call of a dream and made it a reality. You are everything I believed I was fighting for all those years."

It's a slow and long road to healing for Rocco and Mandy is wonderful in how she treats him. She understands him and she treats him with a care and gentleness that is astonishing. She is compassionate, loving, tender and patient. When you think she might give up because Rocco has pushed her out and shut her out one time too many, she surprises you with how incredibly giving she is and comes back to face Rocco again, not giving up on him, believing in him.

There's a threat that hangs over Rocco and Mandy's head too as some unknown person is threatening Mandy's ranch but the focus for me was Rocco and how he heals. At one point, I stop to wonder if there is going to be any healing for him and if he can even move forward again to a normal life because he is so broken. I wonder if it's even a possibility for a romantic relationship between him and Mandy, but Mandy is persistent and slowly but surely, she breaks through the walls around Rocco and reaches him where it matters.

This story is raw and gut wrenching, and it is worth reading. It is also very, very authentic. It is clear that Ms Levine has done her research and done it thoroughly. As someone who has lived in the Middle East, I can say that she has truly managed to capture some of the nuances of the culture which she has woven very subtly into the story to highlight how different the Arab people are from everyday Americans. Well done, Ms Levine.

I have been recommending this book to everyone who'll listen to me rave about it ever since. :-)

I should also mention that since I listened to this book, I have become obsessed with the voice of the narrator, Eric G Dove. His voice is beautiful and his voice for Rocco is such a sexy, gravelly growl. It's really quite a sensory experience, listening to him. In fact, I became so obsessed, after I finished this book, I went right out and did a search on Amazon for another book he had narrated, found it and started listening to it. I'm mildly interested in the (new) book but it was all about the voice for me.

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The other books in the series:

Book 2 - Shattered Valor

Book 3 - Honor Unraveled

Book 3.5 - Kit and Ivy, A Red Team Wedding Novella

Book 4 - Twisted Mercy

Book 4.5 - Ty and Eden, A Red Team Wedding Novella

Book 5 - Assassin's Promise

Red Team 1 - 3 Boxed Set

Red Team 3.5 - 4.5 Boxed Set

About the author

auI make stuff up. And I have fun doing it.

Genre fiction gives me the perfect medium to build worlds where readers can join me for fun adventures. Pick up one of my Men of Defiance historical western romances and slip your fingers around the Colt .45 of a legendary gunslinger, be a scout for a wagon train, or ride shotgun on a stagecoach. Pick up one of my Red Team romantic suspenses and join the battle against international druglords and home-grown terrorists with a hot team of counter-terror experts.

Romance fiction lets you be, for a few sweet hours, something you're not. Which is cool, because every time you look at life through someone else's eyes, you learn more about yourself.

So read often...become who you were meant to be.

I was born a poor, white child into a modestly affluent family, third daughter to a father who wanted only sons. I cooked and cleaned and mended my evil stepmother's and stepsister's ball gowns until my very own Prince Charming stole me away. We had two beautiful children, a boy and girl, who left our granola-eating, tree-hugging family to be warriors and, well, Republicans. Our son heard the siren call of the woman he loves and presented Prince Charming and me with two beautiful grandchildren, a girl and a boy. Our daughter continues on the warrior's path and yearns for a lifemate more alpha than she but has an adorable to dog to occupy her attention in the meantime. And if you believe this fairytale, you'll certainly love my books, so give them a try!

Author links: Email - Website - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads

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